Monday, April 8, 2013

How To Be... a Human Cannonball

Have you ever wanted to fly? No, not airplane kind of flying or even hang glider kind of flying; I mean real flying. Like Superman... well, except without the ability to control where you're going or anything like that. If that sounds like the job for you, you might want to look into being a human cannonball.
Me? Really? I can fly!
No, not like that guy. Theoretically, that guy is a superhero. I'm not sure what the head honchos at DC were thinking when they gave the green light on this guy, but I think he gets my vote as lamest superhero ever.
Just aim me at the bad guy and fire!
Actually, I was talking about this kind of human cannonball:
The short answer for what you need to do to be a human cannonball is to be brave enough to climb into one of those cannons. The good news there is that they don't actually use gun powder as part of the firing mechanism. Any gun powder that's used is just part of the spectacle of making it look like it works the way a real cannon does. In actuality, they use springs or compressed air.

The first human cannonball stunt was performed in 1877 from a spring-style cannon designed by "The Great Farini" (the guy that used to tightrope walk across Niagra Falls with people on his back and stuff like that), but he wasn't the one fired from the cannon. No, that honor went to a 14-year-old girl called "Zazel." Which brings us to the second thing that works out really well if you, as a person, want to be a cannonball: be small and light.

Really, that's all there is to it. You need to have a certain amount of recklessness, and, you know, fit into the cannon. Or, well, I suppose you could have one specially built if you really wanted the experience but were too big for a normal cannon. Be sure, though, because there have been more than 30 cannonball deaths since the advent of the stunt. Sure, you get to fly, but, really, it's not the flying that will kill you.


  1. Yeah, the cessation of flying is the hard part. I'm going to pass on this one. I'd be a better genetic engineer. You can be any size to do that, right?

  2. I don't like to fly anyway. Big pass on this one.

  3. I'm just wondering what happened to poor Zazel. Was it her last recorded flight? Or did she make it a career? Will I have to wait until the letter 'z' to find out?

  4. Seems like kind of a dangerous option.

  5. I'd rather do the Homer Simpson and let the cannonball hit me so I don't have to do more than just stand there.

  6. Oooh! I think I could actually do this one.

  7. Wow. Human cannonball. I have to admit, in my dreams I a total badass and I can fly. But in real life, I would be scared to death to get shot out of that cannon!

  8. No... death comes when the wall jumps in front of you while you fly. :-P

  9. Yes I do want to fly. But human cannon ball... no thanks, I think I'll pass. :D

    This was a fun, informative post, BTW.

    From the A-Z neighborhood,
    D(ee) is for Deecoded

  10. There was an excellent Longform article on this:

    You apparently have to be pretty good at gymnastic-y stuff? The article was great. It also made me want to be a Human Cannonball, which is something that happens everytime I read an article about something.

  11. It would be a wonderful experience if they choose me to fire this thing rather than being the human cannonball.

    Sincerely,Miss Uncertain---sidetracked

  12. Kind of a weird thing to think of in the first place. I don't think there would be enough money to make it worthwhile. It is a rather thrilling thing to watch though.

    A Faraway View
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  13. I'd like to fly. That being said, I've dreamt of doing so quite often and it was always fun.

  14. Donna: I do believe so, yes, and, maybe through genetic engineering, you can be any size you want.

    Alex: What? No hang gliding for you?

    helenjameson: She went on to tour with the Barnum Circus.

    S.L.: Less dangerous than some other things that I will be talking about when we get to "L."

    PT: There was a guy that did that, too, that I found while I was researching this. He limited the number of cannon shots he'd take to 2 a day... because it hurt too much to do more than that.

    M.J.: I bet we could find people willing to launch you if we can find a cannon.

    jaybird: I think it seems more scary than it would actually be. Like drop rides at amusement parks.

    Misha: Yes. Or the ground.

    Dee: Well, check the other posts, too, then, because I think most of them are informative.

    Briane: I'm not sure you -have- to be good at gymnastics, as I have heard of being able to volunteer for these stunts at shows. You should find one of those to go to!

    miss: LOL That would probably be more difficult than being chosen to be the one shot from the cannon.

    Lee: It is weird, but, then, it's also show business.

    Michael: I've never really had those flying dreams...:(

  15. I am horribly afraid of heights but this is something I could almost talk myself into trying. Then I read the line about the 30 cannonball deaths...

  16. TAS: Still, I think that keeps it in the "safer than driving a car" category.

  17. If I recall correctly, the British shot insurgents out of cannons in India as a reprisal for their violence to employees of the east India trading company.

    For some reason, I get the idea that those weren't as awesome a career choice for participants back then.

  18. Damn, I think human cannonball is out for me these days. What a pity, should have tried it years ago, I don`t think. You do come up with some ideas. Bit like that programme Dirty Jobs.


  19. "It's not the flying that will kill you."
    Wise words.

  20. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie but I could never do that. I'd be screaming bloody murder. Maybe I'm just getting old.

  21. I'm going to save my cannonballs for the pool!

  22. Ha! I love it - this one cracked me up!

  23. I've skydived--really get pushed out the plane by the guy I was attached to--but, I think I can walk by the sign about being a human cannonball. Maybe.

    AtoZing at
    Take 25 to Hollister
    Don't be a Hippie

  24. Stuff like being a human cannonball makes me doubt humanity is as intelligent as we claim to be.

    And if you want to get into lamest superheros, I really think there are even lamer ones than the Human Cannonball.

  25. Rusty: I've never heard that, but the goblins do that in Warhammer.

    Jo: I've never seen that, but I've heard people talk about it.

    David: Makes me wish I could forget to hit ground.

    Pk: I'm not sure how I feel about it. 20 years ago, I think I would have done it. Maybe even 10 years ago. I'm not sure anymore, though.

    Missed: I'm not much of one for the pool, so I'll leave those for you.

    Kimberly: Good!

    Su-sieee!: I used to want to skydive, but, again, I don't know that I'd be willing anymore.

    Jeanne: I can't think of a single one... oh, wait, maybe one... But I'd love to see who you think is more lame.

    Rebecca: Well, be back tomorrow for something completely different!

  26. Haha, great post! I don't think I'd want to be anywhere near a cannon though. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: